Browsing Category

Essays

In Essays

Parsha Chukat-Balak | Worst Torah Portion Ever

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Chukat-Balak, Numbers 19:1 – 25:9. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Korach.

This double Parsha of Chukat-Balak was difficult to follow and not particularly moving. Feeling uninspired, I went to My Jewish Learning for commentary and a piece by Rabbi Danielle Leshaw caught my eye because it summed up my thoughts: “The ‘Worst’ Torah Portion.”

Continue Reading →
In Essays

Parsha Korach | God Doesn’t Have A Complaints Department

Photo by Ybrayym Esenov on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Korach, Numbers 16:1 – 18:32. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Sh’lach.

The Israelites have been wandering, and in case you’ve missed the last couple of Parshas, they’re getting impatient. A Levite among them, Korach, descendant of Reuben (not the sandwich), rises up against Moses alongside 250 others. We’re talking chieftains and other “men of repute.”

Moses, as is a theme with Biblical figures in the Torah, gets pissed.

Continue Reading →
In Essays

Parsha Sh’lach | Keeping The Faith

Photo by Sergiu Nista on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Sh’lach, Numbers 13:1 – 15:41. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Beha’alotcha.

Something that I think gets lost in common Biblical knowledge is that someone was occupying the land of Israel prior to the Israelites. In Parsha Sh’lach, Moses dispatches spies to investigate the land before they continue their trek. The spies come back with distressing reports that frighten the Israelites to the point that they don’t want to continue the journey.

The Israelites, as they had in last week’s Parsha, complain.

Continue Reading →
In Essays

Parsha Beha’alotcha | One Law For Everyone

court gavel
Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Beha’alotcha, Numbers 8:1 – 12:16. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Nasso.

The Israelites are marching onward toward the Promised Land and the Lord’s children are growing impatient. But they aren’t asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” They’re complaining about the meal plan––all of the manna they’ve eaten. They crave meat and say they were better off in Egypt.

And Torah God gets pissed.

Continue Reading →
In Essays

Parsha Nasso | Guilt, Confession, and Restitution

Black Lives Matter protest
Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Nasso, Numbers 4:21 – 7:89. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Bamidbar.

Something that used to annoy me about religious folks is when they cherry-pick a nice verse to make their point even when that verse is surrounded by objective craziness.

I’m going to do just that right now because I think this verse offers a pretty simple blueprint of how white people can work to be proper allies to the Black Lives Matter movement and those facing police brutality in the ongoing protests.

Continue Reading →
In Essays

Parsha Bamidbar | Making sure you’re counted

Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1 – 4:20. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Behar-Bechukotai.

Welcome to Numbers, the fourth, yes the fourth book of Moses and the Torah. And we start off with a Parsha that’s about as exciting as you can imagine a book called “Numbers” can be.

Indeed, God and Moses are counting. They’re counting the members of various tribes of the Israelite people. There are names, there are lists, and yes, there are numbers.

Continue Reading →
In Essays

Parsha Behar-Bechukotai | Torah God lays down the hammer

Torah God seen here after going on a bender. Photo by thom masat on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Behar-Bechukotai, Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Emor.

Just when I try to give Torah credit, admitting that I can see how people derive meaning from the text and that perhaps I’d been too snarky, this Parsha comes around.

Leviticus winds down this year with a double reading featuring Torah God at His finest. You get more obscure rules, including what to do with your slaves (spoiler: setting them free isn’t mentioned), and then Torah God pulls off the kiddy gloves.

Continue Reading →
In Essays

Parsha Emor | COVID promises an “eye for an eye”

Tourists wearing masks in Singapore during COVID 19 pandemic
Photo by Victor He on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Tazria-Metzora, Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Achrei-Kedoshim.

The longer I follow the weekly Torah portion, the more likely I’m to read something between the lines and instinctually interpret a piece of text. This isn’t necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes bullshit is just bullshit, no matter how you dress it. Pulling meaning out of nothing can be a tiresome, pompous task. I did it in art class years ago when my teacher liked my work and asked me for the story behind it.

Continue Reading →